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Newsstand: January 21, 2014

Another day. Another cold snap. Pardon me while I go roll myself in heated blankets until next week. In the news: The GTAA says it is ready to tackle this week’s temperature drop, severe-weather related insurance payouts hit an all-time high last year, no Olympic bid for Toronto, and we’re back to talking about the chairs at City Hall.

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As the temperature across the city drop once again, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority jumped out of bed and put on its proactive pants, assuring travellers that they are upping staff and keeping extra workers on standby to avoid a second airport ground stop at Toronto Pearson International Airport. Runway plowing will also increase as a cold snap that is expected to last until Friday will see the temperature sit at around -33ºC with the wind chill—nice and balmy gross! On the bright side, precipitation is expected to be light during the deep freeze, which should make airport conditions more tolerable to manage. Now, if we could just get a similar assurance from the Toronto Transit Commission that streetcars will keep running. Perchance to dream…

Since we’re already talking about the weather, The Insurance Bureau of Canada says that the December ice storm caused more than $200 million in insured losses, while Toronto’s summer of heavy rains and flash flooding resulted in $940 million in damage payouts. In total, 2013 will go down as the worst year ever for severe weather insurance payouts in Canada, having topped $3.2 billion. It is doubtful the insurance industry will simply take this big of a hit on the chin and keep moving forward. No, some companies have already begun raising their rates because of the spike in weather-related claims. Although it is not guaranteed across the board, it is highly possible that more rate increases and deductible changes are looming for policy-holders.

If you care about bringing the Olympics to Toronto, you’ll need to insert a sad face here, as the City’s economic development committee voted unanimous to forgo a bid to host the 2024 Olympics, which would have cost upwards of $50 million to execute properly. The committee did not close the door so quickly on the idea of a bid for the 2025 World Expo, voting 3–2 in favour of exploring it further. While the process is less expensive—hovering at around $10 million—Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly said on Monday that now is not the appropriate time for Toronto to pursue either bid, and that the City should not do so until after the Pan Am Games in 2015. The committee’s recommendations will now move to council for further consideration.

In case you needed more proof that no issue—great or small—ever truly goes away in this city, we’re back to talking about the chairs at City Hall this morning. Yes, the same vintage Warren Platner–designed chairs that were scandalously replaced last year with $2,500 replicas that cost a total of $75,000. Well, now Councillor Adam Vaughan (Ward 20, Trinity-Spadina) is riled up that the city has begun the process of selling the original Platner chairs, which—if refurbished—could fetch four-figure sale prices. While the sale of the chairs has not yet begun, Vaughan believes they are part of the architectural and design integrity of City Hall, and should be restored. So where does that leave the knock-off chairs? Vaughan says they should be the ones to be sold. Not all councillors share Vaughan’s passion for the artistry of the vintage seating, with Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East) saying they were busted furniture that should be sold to help offset some of the cost of the replicas. Minnan-Wong did say that a few of the original Platner chairs should be kept as heritage pieces, as was previously planned.

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